Lactic acid Bacteria isolated from European badgers (Meles meles) reduce the viability and survival of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine and influence the immune response to BCG in a human macrophage model.
ABSTRACT: Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) caused by Mycobacterium bovis is the most serious endemic disease affecting livestock in the UK. The European badger (Meles meles) is the most important wildlife reservoir of bTB transmission to cattle, making eradication particularly difficult. In this respect, oral vaccination with the attenuated M. bovis vaccine Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) has been suggested as a wide-scale intervention to reduce bTB infection in badgers. However, experimental studies show variable protection. Among the possibilities for this variation is that the resident gut bacteria may influence the success of oral vaccination in badgers; either through competitive exclusion and/or inhibition, or via effects on the host immune system. In order to explore this possibility, we have tested whether typical gut commensals such as Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) have the capacity to impact on the viability and survival rate of BCG and to modulate the immune response to BCG using an in vitro model.Twelve LAB isolated from badger faeces displayed inhibitory activity to BCG that was species-dependent. Weissella had a bacteriostatic effect, whereas isolates of enterococci, lactobacilli and pediococci had a more bactericidal activity. Furthermore, BCG-induced activation of the pro-inflammatory transcription factor NF-?B in human THP-1 macrophages was modulated by LAB in a strain-dependent manner. Most pediococci enhanced NF-?B activation but one strain had the opposite effect. Interestingly, isolates of enterococci, lactobacilli and weissella had different effects as immunomodulators of BCG-induced macrophage responses as some had no significant influence on NF-?B activation, but others increased it significantly.Our in vitro results show that LAB isolated from badgers exhibit significant inhibitory activity against BCG and influence the immune activation mediated by BCG in a human macrophage assay. These findings suggest that gut commensal bacteria could play a role in influencing the outcome of oral BCG vaccination. Inactivated cells of LAB, or LAB that are bacteriostatic but have a synergistic immunostimulatory effect with BCG, could be potential adjuvants to be used for oral vaccination in badgers. Further work is needed to take into account the complex nature of the gut microbiome, specific immunity of the badger and the in vivo context.
Project description:The role of the Eurasian badger (Meles meles) as a wildlife host has complicated the management of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle. Badger ranging behaviour has previously been found to be altered by culling of badgers and has been suggested to increase the transmission of bTB either among badgers or between badgers and cattle. In 2014, a five-year bTB intervention research project in a 100 km2 area in Northern Ireland was initiated involving selective removal of dual path platform (DPP) VetTB (immunoassay) test positive badgers and vaccination followed by release of DPP test negative badgers ('Test and Vaccinate or Remove'). Home range sizes, based on position data obtained from global positioning system collared badgers, were compared between the first year of the project, where no DPP test positive badgers were removed, and follow-up years 2-4 when DPP test positive badgers were removed. A total of 105 individual badgers were followed over 21 200 collar tracking nights. Using multivariable analyses, neither annual nor monthly home ranges differed significantly in size between years, suggesting they were not significantly altered by the bTB intervention that was applied in the study area.
Project description:Bovine tuberculosis (bTB), caused by Mycobacterium bovis, continues to be a serious economic problem for the British cattle industry. The Eurasian badger (Meles meles) is partly responsible for maintenance of the disease and its transmission to cattle. Previous attempts to manage the disease by culling badgers have been hampered by social perturbation, which in some situations is associated with increases in the cattle herd incidence of bTB. Following the licensing of an injectable vaccine, we consider the relative merits of management strategies to reduce bTB in badgers, and thereby reduce cattle herd incidence. We used an established simulation model of the badger-cattle-TB system and investigated four proposed strategies: business as usual with no badger management, large-scale proactive badger culling, badger vaccination, and culling with a ring of vaccination around it. For ease of comparison with empirical data, model treatments were applied over 150 km(2) and were evaluated over the whole of a 300 km(2) area, comprising the core treatment area and a ring of approximately 2 km. The effects of treatment were evaluated over a 10-year period comprising treatment for five years and the subsequent five year period without treatment. Against a background of existing disease control measures, where 144 cattle herd incidents might be expected over 10 years, badger culling prevented 26 cattle herd incidents while vaccination prevented 16. Culling in the core 150 km(2) plus vaccination in a ring around it prevented about 40 cattle herd breakdowns by partly mitigating the negative effects of culling, although this approach clearly required greater effort. While model outcomes were robust to uncertainty in parameter estimates, the outcomes of culling were sensitive to low rates of land access for culling, low culling efficacy, and the early cessation of a culling strategy, all of which were likely to lead to an overall increase in cattle disease.
Project description:Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) causes substantial economic losses to cattle farmers and taxpayers in the British Isles. Disease management in cattle is complicated by the role of the European badger (Meles meles) as a host of the infection. Proactive, non-selective culling of badgers can reduce the incidence of disease in cattle but may also have negative effects in the area surrounding culls that have been associated with social perturbation of badger populations. The selective removal of infected badgers would, in principle, reduce the number culled, but the effects of selective culling on social perturbation and disease outcomes are unclear. We used an established model to simulate non-selective badger culling, non-selective badger vaccination and a selective trap and vaccinate or remove (TVR) approach to badger management in two distinct areas: South West England and Northern Ireland. TVR was simulated with and without social perturbation in effect. The lower badger density in Northern Ireland caused no qualitative change in the effect of management strategies on badgers, although the absolute number of infected badgers was lower in all cases. However, probably due to differing herd density in Northern Ireland, the simulated badger management strategies caused greater variation in subsequent cattle bTB incidence. Selective culling in the model reduced the number of badgers killed by about 83% but this only led to an overall benefit for cattle TB incidence if there was no social perturbation of badgers. We conclude that the likely benefit of selective culling will be dependent on the social responses of badgers to intervention but that other population factors including badger and cattle density had little effect on the relative benefits of selective culling compared to other methods, and that this may also be the case for disease management in other wild host populations.
Project description:In Europe, badgers (Meles meles) are recognized as major tuberculosis (TB) reservoir hosts with the potential to transmit infection to associated cattle herds. Recent studies in Spain have demonstrated that vaccination with a heat-inactivated Mycobacterium bovis vaccine (HIMB) successfully protects captive wild boar and red deer against progressive disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of two oral vaccines against TB in a badger model: the live-attenuated M. bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin BCG vaccine (Danish strain) and a HIMB vaccine. Twenty-four badgers were separated in three treatment groups: oral vaccinated with live BCG (108 CFU, n = 5), oral vaccinated with HIMB (107 CFU, n = 7), and unvaccinated controls (n = 12). All badgers were experimentally infected with M. bovis (103 CFU) by the endobronchial route targeting the right middle lung lobe. Throughout the study, clinical, immunological, pathological, and bacteriological parameters of infection were measured. Both vaccines conferred protection against experimental TB in badger, as measured by a reduction of the severity and lesion volumes. Based on these data, HIMB vaccination appears to be a promising TB oral vaccine candidate for badgers in endemic countries.
Project description:The population genetic structure of free-ranging species is expected to reflect landscape-level effects. Quantifying the role of these factors and their relative contribution often has important implications for wildlife management. The population genetics of the European badger (Meles meles) have received considerable attention, not least because the species acts as a potential wildlife reservoir for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Britain and Ireland. Herein, we detail the most comprehensive population and landscape genetic study of the badger in Ireland to date-comprised of 454 Irish badger samples, genotyped at 14 microsatellite loci. Bayesian and multivariate clustering methods demonstrated continuous clinal variation across the island, with potentially distinct differentiation observed in Northern Ireland. Landscape genetic analyses identified geographic distance and elevation as the primary drivers of genetic differentiation, in keeping with badgers exhibiting high levels of philopatry. Other factors hypothesized to affect gene flow, including earth worm habitat suitability, land cover type, and the River Shannon, had little to no detectable effect. By providing a more accurate picture of badger population structure and the factors effecting it, these data can guide current efforts to manage the species in Ireland and to better understand its role in bTB.
Project description:The European badger (Meles meles) is of considerable interest in the UK as it is both a protected species and the main wildlife reservoir for bovine tuberculosis infection in cattle. While there have been three national badger surveys in the 1980s, 1990s and 2011-13, using the number of badger main setts as a proxy for the abundance of badger social groups, none has combined contemporary data on social group size at landscape and national scales. We estimated social group size by genotyping hair samples collected at 120 main setts across England and Wales and employing a capture-mark-recapture method based on genotypes. The estimated mean social group size in England and Wales was 6.74 (±0.63) badgers. There was considerable variation in badger social group size among Land Class Groups (LCGs), with a low of 2.67 in LCG3 and a high of 7.92 in LCG4. Combining these results with the recent Badger Sett Survey of England and Wales, we estimate there are approximately 485,000 badgers (95% confidence intervals 391,000-581,000) in England and Wales. Although direct comparison with previous estimates is not ideal owing to methodological differences, our results are consistent with a marked increase in the badger population of England and Wales since the 1980s.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Oral vaccination with Mycobacterium bovis Bacille of Calmette and Guerin (BCG) has provided protection against M. bovis to badgers both experimentally and in the field. There is also evidence suggesting that the persistence of live BCG within the host is important for maintaining protection against TB. Here we investigated the capacity of badger inductive mucosal sites to absorb and maintain live BCG. The targeted mucosae were the oropharyngeal cavity (tonsils and sublingual area) and the small intestine (ileum). RESULTS:We showed that significant quantities of live BCG persisted within badger in tissues of vaccinated badgers for at least 8 weeks following oral vaccination with only very mild pathological features and induced the circulation of IFNγ-producing mononuclear cells. The uptake of live BCG by tonsils and drainage to retro-pharyngeal lymph nodes was repeatable in the animal group vaccinated by oropharyngeal instillation whereas those vaccinated directly in the ileum displayed a lower frequency of BCG detection in the enteric wall or draining mesenteric lymph nodes. No faecal excretion of live BCG was observed, including when BCG was delivered directly in the ileum. CONCLUSIONS:The apparent local loss of BCG viability suggests an unfavorable gastro-enteric environment for BCG in badgers, which should be taken in consideration when developing an oral vaccine for use in this species.
Project description:Culling wildlife as a form of disease management can have unexpected and sometimes counterproductive outcomes. In the UK, badgers <i>Meles meles</i> are culled in efforts to reduce badger-to-cattle transmission of <i>Mycobacterium bovis</i>, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis (TB). However, culling has previously been associated with both increased and decreased incidence of <i>M. bovis</i> infection in cattle.The adverse effects of culling have been linked to cull-induced changes in badger ranging, but such changes are not well-documented at the individual level. Using GPS-collars, we characterized individual badger behaviour within an area subjected to widespread industry-led culling, comparing it with the same area before culling and with three unculled areas.Culling was associated with a 61% increase (95% CI 27%-103%) in monthly home range size, a 39% increase (95% CI 28%-51%) in nightly maximum distance from the sett, and a 17% increase (95% CI 11%-24%) in displacement between successive GPS-collar locations recorded at 20-min intervals. Despite travelling further, we found a 91.2 min (95% CI 67.1-115.3 min) reduction in the nightly activity time of individual badgers associated with culling. These changes became apparent while culls were ongoing and persisted after culling ended.Expanded ranging in culled areas was associated with individual badgers visiting 45% (95% CI 15%-80%) more fields each month, suggesting that surviving individuals had the opportunity to contact more cattle. Moreover, surviving badgers showed a 19.9-fold increase (95% CI 10.8-36.4-fold increase) in the odds of trespassing into neighbouring group territories, increasing opportunities for intergroup contact.<i>Synthesis and applications</i>. Badger culling was associated with behavioural changes among surviving badgers which potentially increased opportunities for both badger-to-badger and badger-to-cattle transmission of <i>Mycobacterium bovis</i>. Furthermore, by reducing the time badgers spent active, culling may have reduced badgers' accessibility to shooters, potentially undermining subsequent population control efforts. Our results specifically illustrate the challenges posed by badger behaviour to cull-based TB control strategies and furthermore, they highlight the negative impacts culling can have on integrated disease control strategies.
Project description:Bovine tuberculosis (TB) in Great Britain adversely affects animal health and welfare and is a cause of considerable economic loss. The situation is exacerbated by European badgers (Meles meles) acting as a wildlife source of recurrent Mycobacterium bovis infection to cattle. Vaccination of badgers against TB is a possible means to reduce and control bovine TB. The delivery of vaccine in oral bait holds the best prospect for vaccinating badgers over a wide geographical area. There are practical limitations over the volume and concentration of Bacillus of Calmette and Guérin (BCG) that can be prepared for inclusion in bait. The production of BCG in a bioreactor may overcome these issues. We evaluated the efficacy of oral, bioreactor-grown BCG against experimental TB in badgers. We demonstrated repeatable protection through the direct administration of at least 2.0 × 108 colony forming units of BCG to the oral cavity, whereas vaccination via voluntary consumption of bait containing the same preparation of BCG did not result in demonstrable protection at the group-level, although a minority of badgers consuming bait showed immunological responses and protection after challenge equivalent to badgers receiving oral vaccine by direct administration. The need to deliver oral BCG in the context of a palatable and environmentally robust bait appears to introduce such variation in BCG delivery to sites of immune induction in the badger as to render experimental studies variable and inconsistent.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The persistence of bovine TB (bTB) in various countries throughout the world is enhanced by the existence of wildlife hosts for the infection. In Britain and Ireland, the principal wildlife host for bTB is the badger (Meles meles). The objective of our study was to examine the dynamics of bTB in badgers in relation to both badger-derived infection from within the population and externally-derived, trickle-type, infection, such as could occur from other species or environmental sources, using a spatial stochastic simulation model. RESULTS: The presence of external sources of infection can increase mean prevalence and reduce the threshold group size for disease persistence. Above the threshold equilibrium group size of 6-8 individuals predicted by the model for bTB persistence in badgers based on internal infection alone, external sources of infection have relatively little impact on the persistence or level of disease. However, within a critical range of group sizes just below this threshold level, external infection becomes much more important in determining disease dynamics. Within this critical range, external infection increases the ratio of intra- to inter-group infections due to the greater probability of external infections entering fully-susceptible groups. The effect is to enable bTB persistence and increase bTB prevalence in badger populations which would not be able to maintain bTB based on internal infection alone. CONCLUSIONS: External sources of bTB infection can contribute to the persistence of bTB in badger populations. In high-density badger populations, internal badger-derived infections occur at a sufficient rate that the additional effect of external sources in exacerbating disease is minimal. However, in lower-density populations, external sources of infection are much more important in enhancing bTB prevalence and persistence. In such circumstances, it is particularly important that control strategies to reduce bTB in badgers include efforts to minimise such external sources of infection.